Solemnity of Corpus Christi

To the First Communion Students and their Parents, Parishioners and Friends of Saint Jerome Parish,

May the Peace and blessings of Christ be with you always!

My most sincere greeting of congratulations to the students who received their First Holy Communion during the Solemnity of Corpus Christi this weekend. My hope for all of you is to grow in love for Jesus Christ who has entered your heart both spiritually and sacramentally on this very special day. Soon you will prepare to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation where you will be sealed with the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. I hope that your encounter with Jesus today will be something that makes you conscious of His love for you, His invitation and His desire to remain with you always.

Jesus loves you dearly; that is why He made Himself available under the appearances of Bread and Wine in the Holy Eucharist so that you, and all of us, can have immediate access to His Presence. He invites you to follow Him closely in the spirit of discipleship by being committed to the fulfillment of your Baptismal Promises. He desires that you choose to remain with Him always by making a personal decision to pray and have an intimate conversation with Him at the beginning and at the end of each day. Know that your Sacramental encounter with Jesus happens at Mass which I encourage you to attend each Sunday so as to receive His Body and His Blood.

To the parents of these children and to our parish community, we have the responsibility to imbibe in these children our unified Profession of Faith through our example. This profession must lead us to a communal act of worshipping the Lord in humility and devotion by making our commitment truly grounded in our response to discipleship. I mentioned during our Evening of Preparation that we are planting the second seed of faith in each of these children, Baptism being the first seed when we chose to claim them in the Name of Jesus Christ so that they, too, would become adopted sons and daughters of God the Father. These young children are incapable of coming to church on their own to receive the Holy Communion frequently.  They need your assistance as parents to bring them to church each Sunday, so that the seed of faith may grow and be nurtured through our communal effort in making them aware for the need of having a good relationship with Jesus Christ.

We are to set good examples of our Christian commitment to these children so that our witness to the Faith may be seen by them as realistic and not simply being expressed for the sake of customary tradition. As parents of these children, you are called to be their primary examples and teachers, starting with your own devotion to the Holy Eucharist, so that their love for God may be inspired by your encounter first and foremost with the same God who claimed you as His sons and daughters when you were baptized in Christ Jesus. I encourage you to sort out your priorities by making God your first priority in everything that you intend to accomplish in your life. Let Him be the first recipient of your time, talent and treasure. I mentioned similar thoughts in my letter last weekend to the parents of those who received the Sacrament of Confirmation. We can only make these Sacramental events meaningful and spiritually fruitful when we choose to live them out with our own conviction of faith in the One in whom we believe.

As a parish community, we ought to foster a spirit of fellowship so that we can always experience the presence of Jesus whenever we are gathered together. The celebration of Corpus Christi that we highlight during the Mass today and the procession of the Blessed Sacrament are provided for us so that we can prolong our encounter with the Lord. We do not make a procession simply for the sake of it. We walk out to the streets of Rogers Park while carrying the Sacred Body of Jesus because we want to make a statement of what we believe as a body of believers. Again, I encourage everyone to realize our call as individuals, as families and as a parish so that we can respond appropriately to God as He calls us to Himself. Our Baptismal Promises should remain our point of reference to believe in God and to renounce the works of Satan by allowing us to be transformed by the mission of Jesus Christ in all the aspects of our family and parish life. We are the Body of Christ. Our talents and gifts as well as our imperfections and shortcomings are realities that are intertwined that should give us confidence to acknowledge God’s wondrous love that continues to transform us into His holy image. The Breath of God, His Spirit within us will continue to spark our desire to become like Him if we choose to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. More so, this transformation can only happen through our conscious decision to be always enveloped by the grace of the Holy Eucharist that we celebrate each day at Mass.

Again, what we have shared with these children this weekend is a statement of commitment and responsibility to God and to our parish community. Please return next weekend and the coming days to pray with us. First Holy Communion is not supposed to be the end of your “Religion Classes.” It is supposed to be an initiation to a much deeper commitment of love and thanksgiving to the One who loves us and cares for us. As Jesus said, let those who have ears…listen.

Sincerely in Christ and Mary,